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Was Fred West "innocent"?

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Re: Was Fred West "innocent"?

Postby atticus » Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:50 am

Now, back to the topic, which was a potentially interesting question of the application of the concept of "innocent until proven guilty" to persons such as Fred West, whose cases do not come to trial.
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Re: Was Fred West "innocent"?

Postby Hairyloon » Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:50 am

atticus wrote:If that is what you choose to think, then so be it.

It is precisely what you have written.
If you think otherwise, then deconstruct the sentence and explain how it says anything different.
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Re: Was Fred West "innocent"?

Postby shootist » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:24 pm

Hairyloon wrote:Let us try an analogue.
A man kills his wife, and does so cleverly enough that it is impossible to prove that he did it. Has there been a murder? You appear to say not.


Suppose he shot her in the heart, then decapitated her and finally disembowelled her before leaving her body nailed to the rafters on video while wearing a mask, but had an unbreakable alibi and there was no evidence whatsoever of any accomplice that he paid to do this to her. It would be a poor detective that would not record such doings as murder. So yes, there has clearly been a murder. The question remains, who did it, and indeed, who is guilty of it. I suspect that one or more of the clever legal beagles here could construct a scenario where the husband did all of these things but is not guilty of murder, or even manslaughter. It'd likely be a bit theoretical though. I am quite certain that Atticus could do so, and possibly would do so, if he thought I was suggesting such a scenario would be impossible.
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Re: Was Fred West "innocent"?

Postby atticus » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:30 pm

As I said, this topic raises the interesting question of the application of the concept of "innocent until proven guilty" to persons such as Fred West, whose cases do not come to trial.
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Re: Was Fred West "innocent"?

Postby shootist » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:48 pm

There begs a possibly even more interesting question on the status of the person who commits a crime but manages to get acquitted at trial. What of a lawyer who's client freely admits to him that he committed the crime he has been charged with but insists upon the prosecution being put to proof and by some mischance the prosecution fails for some reason or other. No lies told under oath, indeed nothing said under oath by the accused, but he walks free.

Straining gnats and swallowing camels is, I think, the first lesson in becoming a lawyer.
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Re: Was Fred West "innocent"?

Postby diy » Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:40 pm

They try to do their job, the other side must do theirs. The lawyer can hopefully take some comfort that most of the time the guilty are locked up, the innocent are free, justice is done and their bills are paid.
My suggestions are not legal advice
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Re: Was Fred West "innocent"?

Postby Hairyloon » Tue Feb 06, 2018 2:38 pm

The operative word in the phrase "Presumed innocent until proven guilty" is "Presumed".
Unless we seek to lay technical meaning on the words "guilty" or "innocent" such that they mean other than "He done it", or "He didn't do it", then these are questions of fact and nothing that we say or do will change those facts.

Anything else is just perception and belief. Since none of us have any duty to issue punishment, it matters little what any of us decide to believe.
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Re: Was Fred West "innocent"?

Postby diy » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:15 pm

...beyond reasonable doubt.

I do sometimes think that is lost in criminal trials. Human nature finds it easier to say "I think he done it".
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Re: Was Fred West "innocent"?

Postby atticus » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:19 pm

I have no idea what defence Fred West was planning to run. But, assuming that he did kill several women, there are several defences that, if successful, would lead to a conviction not for murder but for manslaughter.
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Re: Was Fred West "innocent"?

Postby shootist » Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:12 pm

diy wrote:...beyond reasonable doubt.

I do sometimes think that is lost in criminal trials. Human nature finds it easier to say "I think he done it".


There is a case somewhere that speaks of 'beyond reasonable doubt' and seems to cast doubt upon that expression applying in UK law. Perhaps one of the illuminated could dig it out for us.
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